more from Ad Thalassium 64
Permit us to fill in this gap with a few observations. We must assume that the thee-day journey signifies the three different ways of the godly life, or in other words, the discipline proper to each of the three universal laws. By universal laws here I mean the natural law, the scriptural law, and the law of grace. For each of these laws has a peculiar mode of life and appropriate course of action, since each generates a different disposition of the will for those who follow it.
Maximus explains that the Natural Law “prevents the senses from overpowering reason” in how we treat others, typified by Christ’s teaching, Whatever you desire for men to do to you, do likewise to them (Mt. 7:12, Lk 6:31). Maximus says that this law provides a type of unity among people who overcome their selfishness.
The second law, the Scriptural Law, “curbs the unruly urges of the more foolish by the fear of punishment, and trains them to look only for equitable distribution… of justice” which slowly turns the fear (of punishment) into a disposition [of] “deliberate willing of the good.” This will eventually engender a love of others, and a desire for mutual loving unity with them. “The law of nature consists in natural reason assuming control of the senses, while the scriptural law, or the fulfillment of the scriptural law, consists in the natural reason acquiring a spiritual desire conducive to a relation of mutuality with others of teh same human nature. Therefore the Lord himself specifically says, Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18, Mt 5:43; 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31) and not Regard your neighbor as yourself. The one indicates only the connatural sharing in being, while the other signifies the providence leading us toward well-being.
So he’s saying natural law leads to fairness, but Scriptural law leads to love of those like us.
The third law is the Law of Grace, which “teaches those who follow it directly to imitate God himself, who… loves us, his virtual enemies because of sin, more than himself, such that, even though he himself transcends every essence and nature, he consented to enter our human essence without undergoing change, and while retaining his transcendence, to become a man and willingly to interact as one among men. He did not refuse to take our condemnation on himself, and indeed, the more he himself became a man by nature in his incarnation, the more he deified us by grace, so that we would not only learn naturally to care for one another and spiritually to love others as ourselves, but also like God to be concerned for others more than forourselves, even to the point of proving that love to others by being ready to die voluntarily and virtuously for others. For as the Lord said, There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend (Jn 15:13).
…The law of grace consists in a supernatural reason, and transforms nature, without violating it, unto deification. It also displays, beyond comprehension, the supernatural and superessential Archetype in human nature, as in an image, and exhibits the permanence of eteranal well-being.
…For the entire orderly arrangement of the Church (indeed the individual human soul) is encompassed in these three laws, having its length defined in virtue, its width in knowledge, and its depth in the wisdom of mystical theology. [notes: This triad of virtue, knowledge, and mystical theology evokes the three dimensions of the spiritual life – ascetic practice, contemplation, and mystical theology – which Maximus appropriated from Evagrius and expounded abundantly in his spiritual writings.]